“You keep me out of trouble.” 11 days after starting, 7 wins in the season… Why are Lee and Kim thankful?
KIA Tigers left-hander Lee “Young Gun” Lee lived up to his team’s expectations by picking up a win in his first start in 11 days.
The Tigers won their sixth game of the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League against the KT Wiz 7-0 at KT Wiz Park in Suwon on Monday, extending their winning streak to four games, dropping KT to eighth place and reclaiming seventh place. They also secured the best-of-seven series.
In his first start in 11 days against the Gwangju Kiwoom Heroes on March 27, Lee pitched five innings of three-hit ball, walking two and striking out eight to earn his seventh win of the season. It’s been exactly four weeks since Lee earned a win against the Jamsil Doosan Bears on March 10.
While his performance was much improved in terms of content, with only two walks, there were two close calls during the game where he was hit by a pitch.
Lee was hit in the left instep and shin by balls hit by Jang Jang-woo and Kim Min-hyuk in the first and fifth innings, respectively, but escaped serious injury and continued pitching without a replacement. In the bottom of the fifth inning, Lee was given the mound to the bullpen after fulfilling the winning pitcher requirement. Kia head coach Kim Jong-kook encouraged Lee, saying, “He pitched five scoreless innings, even though his pitch count was a bit high for the number of innings.”
After the game, Lee said, “If I was a reliever or bullpen, it would have been a big deal to miss 10 days, but I didn’t care because I was a starter. I think I wanted to throw quickly. It felt like a long time to miss one, so when the day came to pitch, I was a little nervous, but I cleared my mind and pitched,” he said after his start.스포츠토토
Lee credits his ‘veteran catcher’ Kim Tae-gun for minimizing his strikeouts. “I think (Kim) helped me get rid of my distractions, so I think the result was good,” said Lee, who worked with Kim for the first time that day.
“He told me that if my body keeps turning sideways, my slider or curve will lose its power and eventually my fastball won’t be able to survive, so he told me to throw it with the feeling of slashing down from the top to the bottom as much as possible,” he said, “So my slider and curve worked well. The fastball kept coming, but I think the changeup worked well because it was alive. I just trusted (him) and threw it,” he said, expressing his gratitude to Kim.